Meditation in Material

Bridget Harvey – Drift, 2020

A very inspirational opportunity during Collect 2021 Craft Fair was attending the talk on Sustainability and Materiality moderated by Varuna Kollanethu, Director of Ruup & Form. A series of conversation exploring the meditative creative process between artists, makers and designers for the exhibition “Meditation in Material” curated for Collect International.

Considering that material reinvention is the heritage of Collect and the fair has always been aligned with the exploration of materials and how artists stretch, reimagine and reinvent process and function with exceptional results. In this conversation emerged the importance of material sustainability and the craft practice during the pandemic and that feeling of frustration that was sometimes transformed by artists in a desire to create more, to be part of that process of searching for a wellbeing, both for themselves but mostly for the others in the world. ‘Artists are key to what humanity is about …,’ commented artist & sculptor Claire Malet. Long before the pandemic – artist, makers and designers were questioning their production methodologies in terms of economic, environmental and social impact. And the lockdown and the uncertainty of the current health crisis created that space for exploring these matters and the pressing within all practices: explore or improve. The makers discussed their process, working closely with natural materials and experimenting with their techniques. 

Using recycling materials can be also the answer for some of the makers, artists, and crafters. Focusing on the cultural shifts in the way society interacts and perceives material. But using material that has been recycled involves a bigger picture, like the best way to run the studio, using sustainable electricity, where to source your ‘ingredients’. Is a bit like buying food, and how we are becoming more aware of where our food is coming from. The same applies to the making process, to the artist’s way of making sure that their materials, raw materials are coming from ethical and sustainable sources. Like we should expect for food, is important to apply that concept and life style to the artist process of making and creating. Any practice should be sustainable, re-using materials, not exploiting the environment and choosing the right material.

And here’s is when also the mending and repairing concept emerged. Interesting the discussion open by artist Bridget Harvey, not only sustainability but also a way to use what is already there in the world for any media, Bridget is very interested in repairing and mending also presented at the V&A during her residency and explored with other projects, commented saying that ‘as I continue to learn more about damage and repair, I am translating it into this on-going series of ceramic plates, using traditional techniques, new materials and experimental ideas’. The art of mending and repairing has also a very important role in the maker journey, strengthening, making skills and has always been part of the craft making. A repaired object is not a ‘second class’ object. It can be that it has lost its functionality but is still important and has its value and use. The mending and repairing conversation is spreading widely now in society, in schools, in museums and also in the retail sector. The importance is also to explore the best way to create durability in what is created by the makers and artist and if new material is coming from using and recycling other sources is a good way to increase the durability of that object. Achieving the equilibrium between ecology, economy and society is not easy but is the only way we will flourish, shine and develop.

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